It is snowing outside and I am holed up in my house. The only thing that's remotely motivating me to get out is the fact that our heater is out of commission for the time being and the space heater is becoming insufficient. Days like this are perfect for reading. I have this book called Kingdom Ethics, by Glen Stassen and David Gushee that I picked up at The Archives Bookshop while on a "field trip" for my Studying and Teaching the Bible class at APU. I've never read it front to back, but I pick it up when I think it might have useful insight to whatever I am mulling over in my head.
I picked it up for some other reason, but I got stuck on the chapter entitled "Just War, Nonviolence and Just Peacemaking". It addresses each of these ethics as they pertain to war and violence. I think we can all agree that war is bad. It just is. I would be interested to hear someone's argument for war being good. (I'm not talking about intention behind a war being "good" or "just", but war itself.)
I consider myself to be a way-of-life pacifist which the authors define as: "The way-of-life pacifist is committed not only to avoiding violence but to practicing peacemaking in a positive way in all relationships." (The other type of pacifist is committed to nonviolence as a rule.) The authors outline that as Christians we should first be committed to the way of peacemaking as Jesus clearly exemplified it in the gospels. Then they explain that just war theorists need to make sure that when they claim a war to be "just" they are using the guidelines that must be practiced before you can say a war is "just". Otherwise they risk crying "Just war!" simply to rationalize the desire for war or the fact that our nation (whatever nation one may live in) has declared war. I won't get into all the specifics of what makes a war just, but if you're interested I'll happily lend you the book so you can read the chapter. I found it incredibly informative.
The chapter finally ends with the authors suggesting that just war theorists and pacifists alike need to be committed to just peacemaking for which they give ten practices:
1. Support nonviolent direct action (as exemplified by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.).
2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat.
3. Use cooperative conflict resolution. ( "Jesus said that when there is anger between us and another, we must drop everything, go to the other, and make peace. It is a command, not an option." Matthew 5:23)
4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice; seek repentance and forgiveness.
5. Promote democracy, human rights and religious liberty. ("Spreading peace is done by networks of persons willing to work together to gain public attention for protection against human rights violations.")
6. Foster just and sustainable economic development.
7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.
8. Strengthen the United Nations and international organizations.
9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.
10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations.
They end with: "Therefore, we urge you not to say, 'I support just peacemaking theory. It is better than both pacifism and just war theory, and I support it and not them.' We do urge you to support just peacemaking theory for what it actually contributes, and to teach it in your church and to demand its practices of your government. We urge you also to discuss both pacifism and just war theory carefully, in your Christian community, and seek in prayer and community to discern which is your calling. Then when all else fails, and the government is about to declare war, you can make a clear witness."